TriMet expands discounted fares
All low-income TriMet riders can now apply for half-price fares, provided they are at least 18 yeas old and can verify their incomes.
The regional transit agency expanded its more limited low-income fare programs on July 1 after years of lobbying by transit and social justice advocates. The expansion is funded with a portion of TriMet's share of the new statewide one-tenth of 1 percent payroll tax for transit approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature that also took effect on July 1.
"Adding this new eligibility to our Honored Citizen program removes yet another barrier to using transit," says TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey. "When that happens, doors of opportunity open. Whether it's getting to a new job or a child's daycare, making transit accessible and affordable for those struggling financially can make a difference in the communities we serve."
TriMet has posted eligibility information on its website. Applications must be made in person at one of four community partner agencies in Portland, East Portland and Beaverton. TriMet is currently working to expand the locations.
Qualifying riders are entitled to one of TriMet's electronic Hop Fastpass cards with an Honored Citizen discount, which is 50 percent off a single-day pass and 72 percent off a monthly pass. It must be picked up at the TriMet's Ticket Office in Pioneer Courthouse Square, where the applicant's picture will be taken.
According to TriMet, all riders using Honored Citizen fares are required to provide proof of eligibility when boarding and when asked to show proof of fare. While riders 65 and older can use a government-issued ID and Medicaid recipients can show their Medicaid card, riders between the ages of 18 and 65 who qualify for the the discount due to disability or income-level are required to have a personalized TriMet Honored Citizen card with a photo. Access to the photos is restricted to fare revenue employees.
The pass is good for two years. Money can be loaded on it at over 400 locations, including grocery stores, and over the phone, on TriMet's website, or by using an app available through TriMet. There are pass readers on every TriMet bus, and at MAX, WES and Portland Streetcar stations, which will automatically deduct the discounted fare.
Any Oregon resident with an income of less than double the federal poverty rate is eligible to apply. For a single-person household, that is $2,023 a month or $24,276 a year. For someone in an eight-person household, that is as much as $7,063 a month or $84,756 a year.
Riders in households already enrolled in a number of existing government discount programs automatically qualify. They include the Oregon Health Plan/Medicaid, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and free and reduced price school lunch.
Applicants will need to document their addresses, incomes and membership in any discount benefit programs.
TriMet says the first-year budget for the program is $12 million, which is expected to cover up to 15,000. Although subsequent budgets have not yet been estimated, the agency hopes to enroll as many as 45,000 riders with the first three years.
According to TriMet, when SoundTransit and agencies throughout the Puget Sound launched a low-income fare program, they received more than 60,000 first-time applications in the first three years.
TriMet has provided low-income fare assistance since 2012. The agency's Access Transit programs — the Fare Assistance and Fare Relief Program — have provided millions of dollars in grants and discounted fares to nonprofit organizations that help those with financial problems.
How to apply
Applications for the new low-income Hop Fastpass discount must be made in person at any of the following locations:
7916 S.E. Foster Road Suite 104, Portland,503-772-2300
19421 S.E. Stark St., Portland, 503-669-7112
Worksource PCC Willow Creek Center (inside Portland Community College)
241 S.W. Edgeway Drive, Beaverton, 971-722-6111
Worksource Metro Central
30 N. Webster St., Portland, 503-280-6046
Applications must bring proof of identification, residence and income.